The Land of Fire and Ice has become a traveller’s dream in the past few years – and for good reason: Iceland is an incredible country, with features that you won’t find anywhere else in the world .
I recently visited Iceland for a long weekend with my friend Louise. It’s only a short hop away from the UK on a two and a half hour flight. With some of the best scenery in the world Iceland left us speechless.
We planned a long weekend to Iceland including three tours to cover as much as we could whilst there.
We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and we used Grayline for our airport transfer which was excellent, with fabulous information and film footage getting us excited for our trip! Our hotel was called Eyja Guldsmeden which I’d highly recommend; friendly and helpful with a lovely boutique feel. It was also an eco hotel setting a fabulous example to us all.
Our first trip was to see the northern lights with the tour company Iceland everywhere. Siggy was our guide, full of character and a passion for photography! Perfect! We drove out of Reykjavík away from the city’s light pollution to find complete darkness, taking in our science lesson on the way!!! It was a clear night, and the aurora forecast looked good. The only thing against us was the full moon! The darker it is, generally the better you can see the lights with the naked eye! The weather and lights are hugely unpredictable in Iceland but we were lucky and we did see the lights! We were thrilled! Although very cold with temperatures at -20 !!! We were home by 1am! Most trips are approx 4 hours waiting until midnight for the best chances to see the lights.
The guide was a wealth of information about the sights we visited and the history of Iceland. You can find more info on their website.
It was a photographer’s paradise with beautiful scenery in every direction we looked. The weather was truly amazing, gorgeous light and with just five hours of daylight the sun seemed like it was in a continuous sunrise or sunset, sitting low in the sky!
Nice Tours who looked like a true Viking with red hair and an impressive beard. He was also a very keen photographer and a loyal Liverpool fan, perfect!! On this tour we visited the geysers, a farm with Icelandic horses and sheep, the breath-taking gulfoss waterfall, a volcanic crater and finally we travelled through lava fields along the coast to the blue lagoon. In the blue lagoon temperatures were approx. 37 to 40 degrees and the mineralised water is said to have healing qualities for skin diseases such as psoriasis. We had a complimentary silica facemask and a Prosecco at the pool bar!
• Only 10% of the island is inhabited, the roads are quiet and it feels so peaceful.
• There are approximately 130 volcanoes in Iceland, active and inactive. About 30 active volcanic systems can be found under the island, in all parts of the country other than the Westfjords.
• The Tectonic plates are moving apart from each other and every day there are very small earthquakes. One of the volcanic mountains had grown 30cm in the last 10 years. Iceland is the only inhabited island in the world where tectonic plates and ocean ridge are visible on land. This makes Iceland a real hotspot in geological context.
• Iceland has the fifth biggest fishing industry in the world, providing 45% of the island’s income.
• They have Black beaches the sand originated from the basalt lava that covers much of the area
• Þríhnúkagígur is a dormant volcano in west Iceland, famous for its enormous magma chamber. It is the only magma chamber in the world that can be entered, and has a depth of 213 metres (699 feet).
• There are six geothermal power plants creating electricity, making 25% of Iceland’s energy. Electricity is therefore fairly economical. You can certainly smell the sulphur as you pass through these areas!!!
• Agriculturally there are many farms breeding horses to export worldwide and they produce a lot of lamb (lamb hot dogs being a speciality!) and they do eat horse meat!!! They are very self sufficient with many many greenhouse farms across the island using the electricity and growing their vegetables including wasabi which they export.
• The soups are a must, so delicious. Supa at the geysers is amazing!
• Food and drink is very expensive, buy duty free and head to the food halls for dinner, great atmosphere and lots of choice.
• Politically locals made comments about their hugely corrupt government. I was also keen to hear their views on global warming.
And finally If you’d like to view some of the scenery on the Iceland in the summer take a look at Justin Beiber’s music video slow down.
Other television/film references are of course Game of Thrones, A woman at war film and Trapped.
Now to plan my return trip for one summer to see the puffins!